Chef Essig's Featured Item of the Week

march is national nutrition month!

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association. This year's theme is "Eat Right with Color." These campaigns are designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices, as well as developing good eating habits and physical activity habits. Proper nutrition is essential to the learning process, and good eating habits are essential to proper nutrition.


We want to make sure that when you dine with us, you are able to have a well-balanced diet. To help with this, we created a serving line called The DASH in both Holmes Dining Hall and Tobey-Kendel Dining Room. This healthy line offers foods that are low in sodium, fat, and calories... but not low in flavor. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is recommended by the National Institutes of Health, The American Heart Association, and also formed the basis for the new USDA food pyramid.

Good Nutrition Couldn't Be Easier!

The DASH was developed to help lower the amount of cases of heart disease, strokes, and especially hypertension which affect millions of Americans every year. Here at UNC, the purpose of The DASH is to accommodate those students/faculty/staff with special dietary needs or food allergies as well as to give customers an area where they can consistently find healthy items that follow specific nutritional guidelines.

The menus at The DASH offer an entrée, a vegetable, and a starch at lunch and dinner at both Holmes (between the Wok 'n Roll and Home Plate stations) and TK (south end of the Wok 'n Roll station). It is the goal of entrées at The DASH to have less than 30% total calories from fat, less than 10% calories from saturated fat, no trans fat, and less than 800mg of sodium. Starch options offer whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, polenta, and amaranth at least six times each week. You will also see a large amount of beans offered at The DASH. Some of the varieties you will see are anasazi, great northern, giant Peruvian lima beans, and mayacabo or peranuo beans. Vegetables are prepared using Healthy Cooking Methods such as roasting, steaming and grilling.


It's a Safe zone for customers with food allergies

Foods served from The DASH are also free of common allergens and intolerance foods such as soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and nuts. (Remember, ingredients in The DASH menus will be allergen free, but the recipes are prepared in our regular kitchens.)


The flavor provided by sodium is often replaced with citrus juices, herbs, and spices which highlight the natural flavors of the foods. We currently have over 150 recipes for The DASH line and are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to spice up the food while keeping down the salt and avoiding the major allergens.

People often wonder what kind of foods we serve at The DASH... here's a sample of some of the items on the menu:

  • Braised Beef Ragout
  • Cuban Ropa Vieja
  • Mojo Beef Kebabs
  • Grilled Beef Tri Tip with Caramelized Onions
  • Cajun Grilled Trout with Apple Salsa
  • Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives
  • Salmon with Tomato Basil Salsa
  • Pork Loin with Apricot Ginger Sauce
  • Banana Leaf Steamed Vegetables
  • Tomato Lamb Dolma with Fresh Basil


Join us for brunch on the weekend and you will find "carved to order" meat items such as roast beef, turkey, and pork loin. By simply adding a glass of milk and some fresh fruit to the items offered at The DASH you have a complete meal that fits the Smart Meal™ guidelines.

smart meal program

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Smart Meal™ Seal was created by the Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program to establish nutrition requirements specifically designed for eating establishments. The seal highlights those entrees that are lower in fat, calories, and sodium, and include components such as beans, whole grains, fruits, or vegetables.

Stay sharp and be your best by eating a healthy diet and DASH to it!

Look for other healthy selections offered in the dining rooms this semester, and don’t forget to look at the weekly menus on our website often to find out what other fabulous menu items await you this week!

Happy Dining!
Executive Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Chef's Sources

  • American Dietetic Association:
  • USDA Food Pyramid:
  • The DASH:
  • Smart Meal™ program:

Want to know what's being served in the dining rooms? Call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus or look at our weekly menus online. Not signed up for the Faculty Staff Payroll Deduction program yet? Learn more about the program here.